I'm supposed to regard the type of folks featured in Dealmaker with a mixture of contempt and jealousy, simply because they make lotsa cash. I'm supposed to scoff at their striped-suit rigidity and tut-tut their work-first mentality, all the while affirming my low-living cred by subsisting on Ramen Noodles and powdered milk.

Screw that. I count many such people as friends and find that they engage in considerably less self-deification than members of the media mafia -- and, I might add, are much quicker to buy the first round. Since I'm the kind of fella who likes to give back, I'm treating them to subscriptions to Dealmaker, one of the fastest-out-of-the-gate biz-pub launches in recent memory and one of the best.

Maybe it's best to start with what the publication doesn't do: namely, glorify its subjects. Sure, the March/April issue includes a few smudgy photos from the mag's launch party and once or twice tags profilees as "rainmakers." For the most part, though, Dealmaker concerns itself more with process than personality. Nearly every item answers the question "why does this matter?" within its first few sentences. The mag doesn't dawdle.

The "Players" section ought to be required reading for any editor of a profile-intensive title. In it, Dealmaker occupies itself with any number of personas (the up-and-comer, the fixer) and, in short and colorful spurts, outlines what the reader can learn from them. None of the section's eight or nine features is linear: there's a first-person recollection from a Midwestern industrialist, a three-way dialogue between shoe mogul Stuart Weitzman and his Bear Stearns investors, and tips from a Dutch lawyer poised to pounce on business opportunities in Cuba. Taken together, they convey a wealth of information without lapsing into irrelevancies (the "what makes Billy Banker tick?" jive that usually worms its way into such profiles).

Which isn't to say that Dealmaker lacks a personality or a sense of humor. "Initial Offering" kicks off with a panoramic shot of Opa-locka Executive Airport on Super Bowl weekend, with Gulfstream Jets lined up like cars at a mall. From there, it darts easily from the sober (high-end-collectible and wine gurus list their "Buy/Hold/Sell" items) to the absurd (a quickie "Elevator Pitch" of an investment idea, the wildly entertaining "My Deal From Hell" tale) and back (a brief mentor/mentee conversation). The section works owing to both its balance and its brevity.

Dealmaker falls a little flat when it steps outside its immediate realm of expertise. The lifestyle-y items in the back-of-the-book "Closing" section -- cars, booze, watches, blah blah blah -- come across as generic, possibly because their mild boosterism contrasts starkly with the authority of the issue's on-point business features. On the other hand, the "Road Warrior" compilation of travel gadgets and tips, which includes everything from a three-hour Beijing tour for the time-pressed to a review of a new Singapore Airlines first-class seat, reads like it was written by somebody who logs 200 days on the road every year.

As for Dealmaker's look, it goes the clean-and-modern route without OD'ing on graphically superfluous flourishes. The mag eschews posed-within-an-inch-of-his-life exec shots in favor of more informal ones, like the black-and-white pix that, strung together across the top of a two-page spread, do a wonderful job of illustrating the personalities in the story that accompanies them. "Players" goes with a split-column format, offering a "Scorecard" of biographical info down the center of the page. Dealmaker even finds a novel way to present a selection of high-high-high end briefcases, "posing" them in various locations around New York's Grand Central Terminal.

As a rule, I prefer to wait an issue or three before reviewing any new publication. The mag deserves a few months to work out the kinks; I deserve a few months to judge whether the mag has enough bullets in its arsenal o' ideas to make it worth my while. Two issues in, however, Dealmaker goes about its business like a veteran. Presenting useful, timely information for an audience that traffics in it... wow, what a novel concept. Really, this whole magazine thing ain't so hard; Dealmaker makes it look easy.


Published by: Doubledown Media
Frequency: Five issues in 2007, TBD beyond that
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